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Yemen: Airstrikes, Assassination Attempts, and Kidnappings

Post-Saleh Yemen is beginning to look like the Wild West as the new government and its US allies battle with Al Qaeda, tribesmen.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/31/2012, 10:54 PM

US airstrikes targeted leaders from Yemen's active al-Qaeda branch killed four suspected terrorists on Tuesday.

Among the dead was Abdel-Monem al-Fathan, suspected of involvement in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 US sailors and injured 39 others.

The attack on the U.S. destroyer occurred while it was in the Yemeni port of Aden for refueling.

Yemeni security and military officials said missiles struck a school and a car late Monday in the southern Abyan province.

Yemeni security officials had originally put the death toll at 15 people but later lowered that figure. They also said 12 terrorists were wounded in the strikes.

The province has seen al-Qaeda grab large swaths of territory amid the security vacuum since an uprising against outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh began last year.

Saleh, currently in the United States for medical treatment stemming from a June 2011 assassination attempt is reportedly seeking refuge outside of Yemen.

Also Tuesday, armed tribesmen from the al-Mahweet province kidnapped six United Nations workers — an Iraqi woman, a woman from a PA enclave, a Colombian man, a German man and two Yemeni men. The assailants demanded that the government release fellow tribesmen from prison.

Tribes in Yemen have historically used kidnapping as a way of getting concessions from the government and hostages are ordinarily well treated before being released.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Information Minister Ali al-Omrani, escaped an assassination attempt when his car came under fire Tuesday outside the Cabinet building in the capital Sanaa.